To Co-Wash or Not To Co-Wash?

I hear that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Here’s to hoping that you missed me last week….

the mask
“Did you miss me?”  

So, the week before last (I have always wanted to say that), I said that my opinion about co-washing was a story for another day. Guess what? Today is that day and we shall jump right in.

As earlier defined, co-washing is washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. That already sounds funny, doesn’t it? It has been in the natural hair community for a while now and I am sure newbies wonder what it is, why one would do it or even how it helps. We covered some of it here but it was not nearly enough.

If I am being honest, there is a time when I used to co-wash my hair. I should probably admit that I did it, not because it was a trend, but more because I was just looking for an excuse to make wash day less grueling. You know how you have to prepoo, shampoo, condition then seal your hair before even styling it? It can be a handful especially when you don’t have time or don’t feel like doing ALL that. So as I was reading through some hair blogs and watching some YouTube videos, I stumbled across co-washing. Oh the joy!!!!!!

Famous YouTuber: So you co-wash your hair before blab la bla…….

Me: You mean I don’t have to shampoo? Yaani what you are saying is that all I have to do is slather my hair with conditioner and wash it off then it’s clean? *cue illogical but logical thoughts* Wait…..So that also means that technically I have washed and conditioned my hair if I use a good conditioner? One step eliminated on wash day? I think this lady just saved my life….and money…..because time is money…. More time for me to watch series! Hehehe.

Thus began my co-washing journey.

The idea behind co-washing is to clean your hair without stripping it of all the essential oils. In other words, clean your hair without getting that steel wire, naked feeling you get from shampoo. At least once a month though, it is recommended that you use a shampoo or a clay wash to clean your hair. Just as a by the way, clay washes are just it! I can gush about them mpaka you think I work for one of the companies….but kama kawaida, that’s a story for another day, yes? Yes. 🙂 I’m glad we always agree.

For co-washing, you should use some cheap conditioner for the process. Abeg, please protect your Cantu, TRESemmé and VO5 conditioners. Don’t use them for co-washing. Get something you can ‘waste’ without feeling the pinch in your pocket. So, nani mimi? Ati you said cheap conditioner? I went and bought kina Beula (because the hair food smells nice) and Nice n’ Lovely conditioners. Those things do nothing for my hair. Nothing!!!!! They slid right off my hair like I had just used water. Two bottles later with no results to show for it, I just laughed at myself.  Then I found another conditioner from Beauty Formulas they used to sell at Tuskys. It was 200 bob for 500ml and smelled like something yummy. That went out of stock and I turned to Suave Ocean something which was about 220 bob for 500ml…. During this time, I was a faithful weekly co-washer. I liked that my hair was easy to manage, because that is one of the benefits of using conditioner. It was easy to occasionally comb, style etc and it was always super soft. My hair had great slip which after three weeks of co-washing felt more like it was transitioning into slimy. I then noticed that I would be itching like crazy by the second day after washing, which was annoying. So I decided to have more clay washes and would even shampoo my hair once every two weeks. After this change, my scalp was not as itchy and my nails were not automatically brown-black whenever I decided to run my fingers through it.

So I put my thinking cap on and asked myself, “What is the purpose of conditioner?”

Ideally, conditioner’s main goal is to moisturize your strands and add slip, making it easier to manipulate (comb, detangle, etc). So now how was I substituting shampoo, a product designed to clean my hair and equipped with the right ingredients for that, with a product that was supposed to add moisture and help add slip? It’s like saying I take body splash and use it to shower…..or take shower gel and use it as lotion. The last two sound ridiculous, I know; so should co-washing, in my opinion. BUT some swear by it, so who am I to say it does not work?

All I know is that my scalp sent me signals (we are that tight :-D) when I would co-wash. The itchiness was because of dirt. In addition to that, all the product build up through the week from oil, smoke, dust, dirt, fog, smog and all those other things in our Nairobi air would be nicely preserved in my strands by conditioner. My nails can attest to that. One of my ‘clean-tests’ when it comes to my hair is how dirty my nails get when I touch it. It’s not scientific or foolproof but it works for me most of the time.

In short, I stopped co-washing my hair. It did not make sense if my aim was to clean my hair. However, if I want to douse my hair with moisture without necessarily cleaning it, then it could be an option. Which makes me wonder, if I use leave-in conditioner daily, does that mean I wash my hair daily? thinky face emoji

Okay. I’m sorry. I’ll turn off the sarcasm……till next time.



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